These 10 foods help lower cholesterol
The right diet can have a positive effect on blood lipid levels. There are even certain foods that are considered natural cholesterol- lowers. For example, some fruits and vegetables are plant-based cholesterol-lowers.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – this saying is actually not pulled out of thin air. Because if you eat 2 apples a day , you can lower high cholesterol levels. This is the result of a British study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The reason: Apples are rich in pectins (= roughage). These bind bile acid in the intestine, which is then excreted. In order to be able to produce new bile acids, the liver uses cholesterol from the blood and the cholesterol level drops.
The pear-shaped fruit contains a lot of fat. However, these are mainly monounsaturated fatty acids. These can reduce the total cholesterol level and the proportion of harmful LDL cholesterol. According to a study by Pennsylvania State University, eating one avocado a day has a positive impact on blood lipid levels in overweight adults.
Green tea not only contains tannins , but also so-called saponins . The latter is a sugar-like substance that binds cholesterol from food in the intestine and can thus have a positive effect on the cholesterol level in the blood. Tannins also inhibit the absorption of fats from food.
In addition to unsaturated fatty acids, olive oil also contains secondary plant substances. These can reduce the level of problematic LDL cholesterol in the blood. However, the oil should be cold-pressed and not heated. Many of the healthy nutrients are lost through heat.
According to a 2017 study by the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU), walnuts help to improve fat metabolism and lower the level of harmful cholesterol in the blood. The explanation: The healthy kernels are rich in unsaturated fatty acids. To benefit from the positive effects, you should eat about a handful a day .
Lycopene not only ensures that the tomato is so beautifully red. The dye increases the level of healthy HDL cholesterol in the blood and prevents cholesterol from building up in the walls of the blood vessels. It doesn’t matter whether you choose fresh tomatoes or the canned version. In order for the body to be able to absorb lycopene better, however, tomatoes should be heated before consumption.
The tuber contains the active ingredient alliin. The amino acid has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and inhibits the formation of cholesterol. So far, however, the latter could only be proven in experiments in test tubes and in animals.
Even if chocolate contains a lot of saturated fat and calories, it is not unhealthy per se. However, you should pay attention to the cocoa content. The higher it is, the more flavonoids are contained. The phytochemicals can help lower cholesterol levels. Experts therefore recommend snacking on chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa content .
Ginger is not known as a “superfood” for nothing. Among other things, the root is also a natural cholesterol-lowering agent. This is due to the contained gingerols (hot substances). They cause cholesterol to be increasingly converted into bile acid and excreted. The small amount of 2 grams of ginger powder or a thumb-sized piece of root per day is sufficient for this effect.
High- fat fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna contain large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids . These can lower LDL cholesterol levels. The German Society for Nutrition recommends eating fish once or twice a week. Fish oil capsules, on the other hand, should only be taken after consulting a doctor.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like building block that is important to every cell in the body, such as:
- as part of the cell wall
- for the formation of certain messenger substances,
- as a starting material for bile acid (necessary for the digestion of fat) or
- for the production of vitamins.
The body produces most cholesterol in the liver itself. Humans only absorb a small proportion of the substance through food. It is transported via the blood. The cholesterol forms lipoproteins with proteins, fats and other building materials. Because these are different, there are 2 types of cholesterol – LDL and HDL cholesterol.
Good HDL cholesterol versus bad LDL cholesterol
Lipoproteins differ in their density, so they can be divided into 2 groups:
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL): They ensure that the fat-like building block is transported to the various organs and tissues. A high LDL level increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular problems. That is why LDL cholesterol is also considered the “bad” or “harmful” cholesterol.
High-density lipoproteins (HDL): They carry excess cholesterol back to the liver. HDL is referred to as the “healthy” or “good” cholesterol. With a high HDL value, the risk of cardiovascular disease also decreases.
Cholesterol too high: why is it dangerous?
The older a person is and the more unhealthy he lives, the more small foci of inflammation can develop in the wall of the blood vessels. If the LDL value is increased, these areas absorb a particularly large number of cholesterol particles. Sometimes there are also small tears and blood clots form, which close the hole. This can lead to scars or calcifications and constrict the vessel . Doctors then speak of arteriosclerosis. Sometimes the clot is very large or the narrowing is very severe. The affected vessel can then become blocked and cause a life-threatening infarction in the brain or heart.
These tips will help you lower cholesterol naturally
There are several ways to lower cholesterol without medication.
Diet – to lower cholesterol naturally
Basically, people with unfavorable cholesterol levels should not completely banish fat from the diet, but rather replace saturated fats with unsaturated ones. That means: little animal fat (e.g. in sausage, meat, dairy products) and trans fats (e.g. in chips, fries, ready meals), but more:
- Olive oil and
- Whole grain products.
Exercise to lower cholesterol
Regular physical activity lowers blood pressure, keeps the heart fit and lets excess pounds melt away . All of this has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system – and also helps with high cholesterol levels. For this reason, sport is one of the natural cholesterol-lowering agents .
Endurance sports such as jogging, walking, cycling or swimming are most suitable . Experts recommend being active at least three times a week for 30 minutes each time. But even going for a brisk 10-minute walk every day can already reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
There is evidence that stress increases cholesterol levels and that this primarily affects the level of harmful LDL cholesterol. So it’s worth doing something to relax.
Methods for relaxation:
Methods that can help are, for example, yoga, autogenic training, mindfulness training or progressive muscle relaxation.
Getting enough sleep:
If you don’t get enough sleep, your cholesterol levels will deteriorate. In general, 6 to 8 hours a night is optimal for most adults. For a good night’s sleep it helps, for example:
- don’t eat too late
- Going to bed and getting up at the same time whenever possible
- Banning TVs, cell phones and laptops from the bedroom and
- ensure that the bedroom is sufficiently darkened and that the room temperature is suitable (no more than 18° C).
FAQs on cholesterol-lowering foods
What foods lower cholesterol levels?
Certain foods can help lower cholesterol naturally. A high proportion of roughage, tannic acids, unsaturated fatty acids and secondary plant substances is helpful here. Examples of natural cholesterol-lowers include:
- legumes such as peas,
- green tea,
- herbs such as ginger, garlic or wild garlic,
- nuts and vegetable oils,
- cocoa as well
- fat fish.
How do I lower my cholesterol?
Diet is a good way to naturally lower cholesterol. Experts recommend the so-called Mediterranean diet with little animal fat and lots of plant-based foods and fish. A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, enough sleep and little stress also ensures a healthy cholesterol metabolism.